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Samuel Bell McKee, ex-Chief Justice of Supreme Court of California
Posted by: Mamie (ID *****2186) Date: June 11, 2009 at 11:03:44
  of 5279


Death of the Ex-Chief Justice At His Home in Oakland.


He Passes Away Peacefully On Wednesday Evening After a Brief Illness - Appropriate Action By the Bar of This City.

Samuel Bell McKee, ex-Justice of the Supreme Court of California, died at his residence, No. 1088 Adeline street, Oakland, at 11 o'clock on Wednesday evening. The news was received in this city early yesterday morning, following so closely the death of Chief Justice Morrison, caused a general feeling of surprise and gave rise to unfeigned expressions of sorrow at this almost simultaneous loss of two eminent jurists. The news of the decease of Mr. McKee came without warning, for it was not known outside of his family and a few of his most intimate friends that he was even ill. He had recently returned from a brief visit to Mexico. While on the way he contracted a severe cold, and at San Diego he was seized with cholera morbus. On reaching his home, one week ago, he took to his bed, suffering from a complication of pneumonia, congestion of the lungs and kidney complaint, and in spite of the best medical skill he was unable to resist the attack. His end was peaceful and he remained conscious to the end.

The deceased was a native of Belfast, Ireland, where he was born in the year 1822. He was educated in his native city, and a few months previous to attaining his majority he emigrated to the United States. He first settled in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama, where he was naturalized February 17th, 18_?_. Having studied law and having been admitted to the Bar, Mr. McKee moved to Panola County, Mississippi, where he began the practice of his profession. There soon afterwards he married a daughter of Dr. Davis, a prominent citizen in that country, and continued to enjoy a lucrative practice until 1858. In that year he determined to come to California with his family, and in company with his brother-in-law, William H. Glascock, now living in Oakland, he arrived here a few months later. He first settled in Stockton, but shortly afterwards moved to Oakland, where he has since permanently resided. At the time Mr. McKee cast his lot with the people of Oakland it was a small town, and gave any promise of ever of being the second city in the State. But he took advantage of his opportunity and made judicious investments in real estate which made him independent in fortune early in 1860.

In 1856 the County of Alameda was segregated from Costra Costa County, and the deceased was nominated by the Democrats for County Judge, his first appearance in politics. He consented to serve, and was elected by a handsome majority. Four years later he was elected Judge of the Third Judicial District, which embraced the counties of Alameda, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz and Monterey. For six years Judge McKee presided over this large with such ability, that when the second election came he was triumphantly elected, though his competitor was Hon. Francis E. Spencer, who had been on the Bench of Santa Clara county from the organization of the State of California. His second term of six years' term of service as a Judge proved his fitness for the office, and for the third time Judge McKee was re-elected. During all those years the district was overwhelmingly Republican in politics, yet Judge McKee's personal popularity and fitness for his duties were more than enough to secure his elections. During his third term a change had been made in his district, now the twenty-third, so that it only included the County of Alameda and the Fifth Ward of San Francisco. In 1878 Judge McKee was nominated for the Supreme Court by the Democratic party. The late Samuel H. Dwinelle was the candidate of the Republicans, and Justice McKinstry was the candidate of the Independent party, led by Hon. Newton Booth. The latter was elected while Judge McKee continued to preside over his district. In 1879 Mr. McKee was again nominated for Supreme Court Justice by the Democrats and Workingmen, and was elected. He drew, with ex-Justice Myrick, a seven-year term, which expired in 1886. While on the bench Justice McKee acted as Chief Justice in absence of Chief Justice Morrison. With the present year his long term of twenty years of judicial service on the bench ended, but the deceased could not remain idle, so he resumed the practice of law with his son, Samuel Bell McKee, Jr., in Oakland.

The late Justice was of medium height, with a marked face that would render him noticeable in any place. He was a good man, with a heart of unbounded charity and a hand that dispensed wisely to the needy. To the young he was always welcome, and to many a student and struggling lawyer he was at once a wise counsellor and firm friend. In his home life Justice McKee was eminently happy. Here surrounded by his large family of four sons and four daughters, he dispensed a generous hospitality. As a host he was seen at his best, and his wide reading and fund of anecdote made his conversation delightful to every guest. The deceased held high rank in the Masonic Order and was Past Master of Live Oak Lodge, Oakland.

Justice McKee was married twice, his surviving wife being a sister of the first. He had eleven children, eight of whom are living. The eldest is Annie B. Mhoon, wife of Major John B. Mhoon. The eldest son is Robert L. McKee, a prominent attorney in Portland, Oregon, and the second son, E.D. McKee, is engaged in mercantile business in the same place. The third son, Samuel Bell McKee, Jr., is a lawyer in this city, and the fourth, J.C. McKee, is connected with the Union Bank in Oakland. The younger daughters are Sallie B., Nellie A. and Amy M. McKee.

The funeral will take place at his late residence at 11 A.M. tomorow.

Source: Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, Friday, March 4, 1887; Front Page

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